I am tired. Every time I look up, I see the tentacles of hate spreading. This was a hydra whose heads were supposed to have burned off long ago, something which was supposedly laid to rest, but obviously was not. Ever since 45 decided to run for office, hate has come out of the shadows where it had been festering. Yet, as a Person of Color (POC), I and other POCs have known this hate has been there. However, when we speak out, we have been told we are imagining things and seeing ghosts of years past. So, forgive me if I say, “I am tired.” I can no longer contain what is making me so tired.
Recently, we have seen hate-driven violence on a mass scale. Two white men have committed hateful acts of domestic terrorism. An individual, whose identity will not be acknowledged by the media, killed 11 Jewish people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the same time, another white individual went to an African-American church, which was locked, and then went to a supermarket, where he shot two African-American people in a fit of hate and cold blood. Let that sink in—all of this violence happened in a span of one week, and those are only the high-profile incidents reported. These are reminders of Emmanuel A.M.E. Church and Charlottesville. The violence of white supremacy continues to move along at a steady clip, claiming the lives of POCs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants and Jews.
This hate has also begun to permeate everyday life with an increased frequency. For example, white women have been increasingly calling the cops on African-American men, women and children, making false claims that these individuals are breaking the law while they are simply participating in everyday activities. Thus, hate is making the lives of those in the African-American community even more precarious. This hate, fomented by bigotry, is slowly taking us back to the days of Jim Crow where African-Americans were targeted just for being black. This is how hate operates. It strangles the everyday life of those it targets, leaving themselves with no idea if, when and where it will strike against them or their community.
This is also personal. I recently learned that some individuals at my brother’s university questioned my brother’s citizenship. He was born in this country to a Mexican-American father and a German-Irish mother. He is a citizen. Yet, a group of white men had the audacity to infer that he likely wasn’t born in America, since he is named in the tradition of my ancestors with a Latinx name. This is how hate festers in our everyday world. It is these small, fleeting, seemingly innocuous instances in daily life, where hate begins to take hold in individuals who are not corrected. To the white men who questioned my brother’s citizenship: Nope, cancelled. There’s your correction.
I am not just tired; I am scared. I am scared this hate may become a runaway train. Two years ago, I wrote an article decrying Trump’s rhetoric. Yet now, we see this hate becoming mainstream as others have picked up his talking points. For example, alt-right leader Richard Spencer and Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) have both continued to spew hate speech, reinforcing its spread into the mainstream of American society.
So, forgive me if I say I am tired. Forgive me if I say I am just surviving. Forgive me if I look as though I am stressed. Forgive me if I say I’m just alive. How can I do anything but live when everywhere I turn hate is spreading slowly across this country? I feel like I have little time to enjoy life.
Thus, I ask you to listen, as my knees are weak, my lungs have very little air left to hold and I am tired. Please, if we do not do anything, then we will no longer be able to do anything before it is to late. I leave you with this. Please speak out. It doesn’t have to be in large sweeping gestures. Correct hate when you hear it. Let hate know it has no place in life.
Now you know why I am so tired. I now wish to take a nap, but I cannot. I see there is more work to be done. So I will keep going. Hate will not rest, nor will I. My only question to you the reader is: will you join me?
Carlos Holguin is a member of the class of 2019.